The European Union, through its Interreg V-A EMR programme, has supported and financed the E-TEST project, coordinated by scientists from the University of Liège. With a budget of €15 million, this project aims to enable the consortium of partners involved in the major Einstein telescope project to carry out initial studies on the subsoil of the site proposed for the installation of the telescope, in the Three Borders region of the Meuse-Rhine Euregio, and the construction at the Liege Space Centre of a prototype - never built to date - of a large mirror suspended at cryogenic temperature.
he Kick-off event of the E-TEST project, planned last spring and postponed due to the pandemic, was held online on 9 October 2020: 150 Belgian, Dutch and German scientists and companies took part.
The E-TEST consortium consists of eleven partners: ULiège, Fraunhofer ILT, RWTH Aachen, Universiteit Hasselt, KULeuven, Nikhef, UniBonn, NMWP, KNMI, Maastricht Universiteit and UCLouvain.
Einstein Telescope: a new window on the beginnings of the Universe
The Einstein Telescope project is a new European project of large scientific infrastructure. Its aim is to create the world's largest laboratory for detecting gravitational waves (tiny jolts in space-time) in an attempt to better understand the big bang theory. The equipment will consist of three giant interferometers, 10 km long, arranged in a triangle and buried between 200 and 300 metres deep.
Predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, gravitational waves were observed for the first time on 14 September 2015. The enthusiasm of physicists and astronomers around the world was at its height: they knew they now had a new tool for studying the universe. The observation of gravitational waves will lead to new discoveries, for example about the genesis of black holes and the beginnings of the Universe just after the big bang. A new era has begun in physics and astronomy.
Several sites are currently being considered in Europe for the future Einstein telescope, including the region on the border between Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, but also Sardinia. A decision on the location of the Einstein telescope would be taken in 2023, and the infrastructure should be built in the 2030s.
E-TEST: a geological study and a revolutionary cryogenic mirror
There are two main reasons why the Einstein telescope will be much more accurate than existing gravitational wave detectors. Firstly, it will be located 250 m underground to reduce unwanted disturbances. Secondly, the Einstein telescope will be made up of new and innovative technologies. The Interreg E-TEST project covers both aspects.
The first project consists of an in-depth study of the subsoil, using sensors and probes buried at a depth of 300 metres, to map and model the region's subsoil to ensure its stability. This study will make it possible to consolidate the location of the Einstein telescope and optimise its design in the region. The applied geophysics team around Prof. Frédéric Nguyen (ArGEnCo Department, School of Engineering) is coordinating this project.
The second project consists in the development of a prototype of a large mirror suspended at cryogenic temperature, a prototype never made to date. The implementation of this prototype will validate the technology that will greatly improve the sensitivity of the Einstein telescope to low-frequency gravitational waves, generated by the fusion of very massive black holes. The prototype will be developed at the Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL) and will constitute a new scientific and technological feat. Prof. Christophe Collette (Aerospace and Mechanics Department, School of Engineering), holder of the ERC Consolidator Grant SILENT (Seismic IsoLation of Einstein Telescope), is coordinating this project, developed with the CSL teams around Prof. Jérôme Loicq.
The E-TEST project is carried out within the framework of the Interreg V-A Euregio Meuse-Rhine Programme, with €7.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The other half of the funding comes from Wallonia, the Flemish Region, the Province of Belgian Limburg, the Province of Flemish Brabant, North Rhine-Westphalia, the Province of Dutch Limburg and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, as well as from the project partners' own funds.
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is the European Union's tool for supporting cross-border projects that would otherwise not be carried out. The Interreg V-A Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR) programme is investing almost €100 million in the development of our region until the end of 2020. By investing European funds in Interreg projects, the European Union is investing directly in economic development, innovation, territorial development, social inclusion and education in the Meuse-Rhine Euregio.